SOMERSET, Pennsylvania — A western Pennsylvania man was sentenced to 10 to 24 years in prison for killing his former girlfriend and burying her body near a hiking and biking trail
Jonathan Beal, 24, of Meyersdale, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Somerset County in the September 2012 death of 19-year-old Justine Jackson. He also pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence for burying her body in a shallow grave near the Great Allegheny Passage trail.
Public defender Steve Miller said his client didn't mean to kill Jackson when he put a chokehold to subdue her when their argument about whether to reconcile became physical.
Although his attorney said Tuesday that Beal was remorseful, District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said she saw no sign of remorse.
Beal was originally charged with first-degree murder, but the prosecutor said proving that malice was involved would have been an uphill battle.
"Justine's family understood from the beginning there were problems with this case," she said Tuesday. "They were cooperative and said that today's sentencing will go a long way toward closure for them."